Monday, November 30, 2015

Menu Monday: Week of November 30th

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you get stuffed like a .... you know! We certainly did.  Here are some pictures from last week... with evidence of our Turkey-day delights...

My Thanksgiving Mantel-scape

Turkeys in disguise to avoid being the main course

Our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Brooke did the Pumpkin Pie completely by herself!  Even used the idea of mini-pumpkin pies she saw on Pinterest.  Brenden "frosted" the cookies with melted Chocolate

The Turkey cookies before "frosting"...

... and after!  The chocolate hardens.  Aren't Brooke's little pies cute?  They and the big one were delicious.

The rest of the dessert buffet.  I put out fudge and toffee as well.

Appetizers which we use for lunch while waiting on the turkey.

They were goofing around and I caught them trying to act like they weren't!  Brooke's face is the give-away though!

Wrapped up the weekend with a decorated tree!

As I mentioned above, I tried a last-minute easy-toffee recipe I found through a link up and it was amazingly easy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Check it out here.

This week is a pretty basic week and a bit of a calm before the proverbial storm.  (Next week we have daily rehearsals before the curtain call of our church's big Christmas production next Friday).  I am doing some final little Christmas decor touches and cleaning up the aftermath of Thanksgiving and decorating.  Feeling weary with your daily to-dos?  Check out this article I found last week about What it Really Means to our Husbands When We Manage Our Homes.  I shared it on Facebook today.  It encouraged me a great deal.  Oh, and one other awesomely excitable note: we get to go see Handel's Messiah performed LIVE on Sunday afternoon.  I have never seen it live and the whole family is looking forward to this amazing experience.

Menu for this week...

- eggs and potato cakes
- oatmeal
- cereal
- pancakes

hubby: leftover Pork Fried Rice, Chicken Salad
me and kids: leftovers, Ham or Bologna sandwiches


Turkey Casserole
It may sound weird but it is the easiest and best way to make use of your Thanksgiving leftovers.   Butter a 13x9 dish (I use margarine), cut bite-size pieces of leftover turkey and place along bottom, sprinkle a tad of leftover gravy, smear a layer of left-over stuffing, thin layer of gravy, layer of leftover mashed potatoes, thin layer of gravy.  Bake at 350-375 for about 30-45 minutes.  Basically, until good and warm all the way through.  Serve with any other left-over tidbits like Green Bean Casserole, Corn, Salad, and/or rolls.

Chicken Salad and Fresh Bread


Pork Fried Rice

Chicken Fettuccine with fresh Salad and Garlic Bread Sticks

Home-made Beef and Bean Burritos
I simply love this recipe for tortillas.  So easy and delicious.

Burgers and Home Fries


What are you cooking this week?


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gratitude Reflections: Week 4

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:5-6

My gratitude... I grew up in a family where Athiesm was praised.  Agnostic, you are their buddy too.  Christians?  Well, you better have guts of iron because they will put you through the wringer.  They will take the Lord's name in vain more than usual in your presence... just to watch you squirm.  They will ridicule every.last.move because if you aren't the perfect picture of Jesus then, in their mind, you are a poser and they are ready to throw the punches.

Some days it would be subtle.  Others, it was down-right war.  They (and I at the time) don't/didn't understand the concept Paul often references as spiritual babies.  1 John even seems to be written to this group of new believers... trying to learn how best to glorify God and screweing up pretty consistently along the way until one day, those mature steps start being taken.  But I can't give my family a hard time for that... even many Christians don't realize this about the walk we are called to when we accept Christ as our LORD and savior. 

Lord: He is in charge.  He is what it is all about.

Coming into this understanding after rededicating my life in my early 20s, I had a richer belief after falling away.  I had a deeper understanding because of my broken family and my unbelieving relatives.  I have written many times how my biological dad is an atheist... of how we didn't talk for years because of the persecution.  Yet, when I started praying and asking God WHY, why did he give me such a challenge for a dad, a quickly received my answer:  his unbelief has helped grow my belief.  His steadfastness in the un-realness of God has created a deeper and more seasoned trust in the realness of my Faith.

No, it hasn't been easy.  But through it all, God has taught me so much.  He has taught me, most of all, how to pray in Thanksgiving through all things and to trust Him, seeking Him for the words I need, when I need them... especially with my family but also with all those I encounter on any given day.  I am grateful for this.  For how God has grown me and for how He never stops giving the words I need to be seasoned with salt.

What are you thankful for as the result of your reflections on Colossians 4 this week?


Post your own Gratitude Reflections this week, share the button and share your post in comments below and/or on my Facebook page!  Let us encourage each other this week.

It's not to late... you can gather around the thanksgiving table and share gratitude.  You can even still print the page below for adults and children alike to do something fun during your dinner gathering. (click on image to go to the pdf.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

*Mid-Week Message: Week 4

How is your study going?  How has God's Word been speaking to you this week?  Today I will share what I saw as I walked through this passage.  For time's sake, there will be no video this week...

Scripture this week is from Colossians 4:2-6

We have learned such deep truths to living a life which radiates gratitude, no matter our circumstances.  Where do we go from here?  How do we bow out of this study in a way which resonates? More directly:

How can we pray steadfastly in thanksgiving and, as the result of our prayers, seek open doors where we might be salt and light?

As is typical with most Epistles, and especially Paul's, he closes his letter with greetings and/or a call to pray and some prayer requests.  Here, in keeping with the thankful message, Paul adds a measure of gratitude to the mix:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2

In case you are wondering, be watchful is a common exhortation in Paul's closings, reminding believers that someday Jesus will return and we ought to be ready at every moment.  Steadfastly is also a regular theme which reminded believers to not give up, not cease.  It is also seems to be a reflection of Paul's do everything statement in Colosisans 3:17.  But most importantly in this little verse is HOW the believers were to pray.  Not just steadfastly, not just being watchful but with Thanksgiving.  

Imagine the life of these first century believers, which we have discussed extensively for the past 3 weeks.  If you remember, it is quite reflective of our own: a licentious society given over to idol worship and condemnation of those who aren't.  How do you walk thankfully in an oppressive society where different is... well... different and not well accepted.  Our Salvation, our growth and being rooted in Christ, our New being as a result, create the groundwork of our gratitude.  Paul seems to point out here that all these things are wrapped up and tied together through our steadfast prayers being made in thanksgiving.

What do we thank God for?  Well, all the afore mentioned blessings in our weeks of study... and anything else we just might have left out.  Whether it is the air in your lungs or the weather on your way to work or errands.  Thankful things aren't worse (because they always could be) or that things are better.  Thankful that Jesus will someday be coming back and that all of this life is temporary and passing.  Thankful to realize that even the best day here pales in comparison to what heaven holds when we eventually meet up with Jesus.

Some days, before my husband accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, I couldn't imagine life being any worse.  Thankfully, my husband never hit me... but some days I wished he had and just got it over with... that is how bad it was.  I have lived in physically abusive relationships, I endured many years of verbal abuse as well from hubby B.C. (before he accepted Christ) but still... I was able to be thankful.  Thankful for hope and knowing life wouldn't always be that way.  Thankful it would pass and thankful for the little things I did have in the mean time.... like my children, my home, food and adventure.  

There is always something to be thankful for if you stop and pay attention to HOW God is using your situation.

As a result of praying in thankfulness, Paul shows the believers what comes next:

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison-- that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
 Colossians 4:3-4

Pray for others and, as a precursor to his next statement, he shows how he is looking for opportunities to share about Christ, even from prison, that God would give him Words and he trusts the concerted prayers of believers will help.  Then... he calls them to do the same:

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. 
Colossians 4:5-6

If he can sit in prison, praying with gratitude, encouraging and teaching believers and looking for even more opportunities to do so.... then surely so can the rest of the believers.... so can we.

  • Be wise toward outsiders - unbelievers
  • Make good use of the time - literally buy up the time like people buying up a product at a good price.  Christians are to buy yup ever opportunity God gives to share the good news and serve others.
  • Practice gracious speech - re-consider Colossians 3:12-14.
  • Seasoned with Salt - a sub-heading to gracious speech (see Monday's historical note) Rabbis of the time would also use the term salt to refer to wisdom

WHY does Paul tell them to do these things?  So that the believers would know how they ought to answer each person.  Without consistent prayer, in thanksgiving, focusing their hearts on the goodness of God and eternity vs. the deprivation of man and the broken lostness of the temporal, an ability to respond wisely was difficult at best.

Is it not the same for us now?

Measuring gratitude, practice thanksgiving each and every day of our lives is not only critical to our personal walk with Jesus Christ, but it is also imperative to reflecting Him and hearing His guidance as we seek to speak truth to others in a way which is uplifting and draws the lost to being found in Christ.

I pray you will find these truths planted deep in your heart as the Thanksgiving season passes and all other days follow behind.  To make a habit of counting blessings and expressing gratitude... especially when it is hardest to do so!


Also, take time today and for the remainder of this week to reflect on how you you can be thankful through prayer and in what ways you can be prayerful in sharing your faith and your hope with others.  

If you want, you can print the leaf document below and fill them out with gratitude reflections.

I pray you will carry this spirit of gratitude beyond this Thanksgiving season.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Preparing Home and Heart: Week 4

It is our last Preparing Home and Heart message in the  How to be Thankful study.  Is your heart ready for true Thanksgiving?  This week we wrap up our study by considering prayer and sharing so this is the inspiration for the....

Home and Heart challenge this week:
Thanksgiving is in a few short days.  Hard to believe it is almost upon us.  I don't know about you, but even with no company coming there is a lot to be done before Thursday.  Whether dusting or cooking or plotting out the order of events.... it is all coming down the line and even with my little family, I find it helpful to remember that joy Jesus has placed in my heart and stay centered on doing these things for the right reasons.

It isn't about impressing anyone.  It isn't about tradition (even though we do have them).  In the midst of the holiday madness it boils down to one thing: gratitude. 

So my challenge for you and for me this week is to do each task, whether cleaning or cooking or... whatever else... with prayer in my heart.  To be thankful for those Christian brothers and sisters (and blood related family) God has put in my life and prayerful for those who haven't accepted Christ yet.  Each spec of dust, each freshly cooked dish, each moment praying for open doors and opportunities to share my hope in Jesus and prepare lost hearts to receive it.

I pray this challenge will help you to enjoy the prep time more AND the big event just as much.  To see those around you (even the challenging ones) as a great blessing and a great opportunity to share your hope and faith with!


Feel free to grab the button and share!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Menu Monday: Thanksgiving Week Edition

The big week is here!!!  Thanksgiving prep will go into full-swing in my house.  Next year I hope to be starting sooner (we will have been settled for a full year by then!)  No company is expected this year, but that is ok.  We make our own style of fun.  If you want details on how I plan our Thanksgiving dinner, check out last week's Menu Monday post here.

Growing up, my mom and I always watched Macy's together.  "It isn't officially Christmastime until you have seen Santa coming down the street in the Macy's Parade" she use to say.  However, no longer having any network t.v. and the last decade or so Macy's just hasn't been the same sweet parade it once was... I decided to start a new tradition: Watch Miracle on 34th Street!  If my mom were still alive today, I believe she would heartily agree. It starts with a very old Macy's parade and ends with some Christmas miracles.  With that said, a typical no-company Thanksgiving day schedule looks something like this:
  • Rise and review my list of to-do for the day while I take in coffee and sweet bread.
  • Put bird in (depending on dinner time depends on the order of the bird going in)
  • Watch Miracle on 34th Street while I do odds and ends jobs like cut potatoes for the mashed potatoes, iron buffet and table clothes and set-up platters with appetizers.
  • Clear ALL unnecessary counter-top tidbits to the pantry so there is plenty of prep space for turkey and other dishes.  This is when I pull out my roaster as well and get it ready to warm.
  • Arrange table with cloth and table scape, set up buffet and serving platters (even for just us, I treat it like a special occasion with all the bells and whistles!)
  • Pre-measure ingredients and get pots placed on stove for all the various dishes.  This makes actual dinner prep go faster.
  • Make calls to extend holiday greetings to family far away 
  • Play a family game
  • Work on side dishes and begin the final dinner run where turkey comes out and all the host stuff goes on
  • Have dinner
  • Watch The Santa Claus to kick off the Christmas season as a family
  • Clean up and start to take down Thanksgiving Decorations, making piles ready to pack first thing (I start Christmas decorating in the morning!!!)
Even for just us I buy the biggest bird I can get my hands on.  We have multiple nights of planned leftovers which is especially helpful as I start the Christmas decorating. 

This week...
In the midst of Thanksgiving prep we are taking the week off from school.  Ashley starts her first job, which is super exciting.  However, it will be just me and Brooke on a lot of the prep (Brenden is sick). I also need to use this time to help the girls finish painting their room, hanging shelves and getting the remainder of their boxes unpacked (Brooke is desperate to have friends over but her still 1/4 packed room prohibits it).  I also want to use some down-time to work on our Christmas newsletter since I plan to get cards mailed over the next week or so.... hopefully!


Monday... Typical daily chores, make fudge and possibly pre-mix Turkey cookie dough and refrigerate.  If my ambitions hold out I will also tackle at least one of the sweet breads. (I typically make Cranberry, Pumpkin and Zucchini) I will also work on sit-downs like newsletter (I have a toe injury I need to baby for a day or so). After dinner we are doing turkey disguises (see Friday's post).
DINNER: Leftover stew from our roast on Sunday and Fresh Bread

Tuesday... Make turkey cookies (see Friday's post), put together a Thanksgiving greeting to share with neighbors along with some of our turkey cookies and sweet bread. I may also get veggies, cheeses and summer sausage cut for the appetizer platters.  All these things will hold well in the fridge.  We will probably do our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving since this is the only day before Thanksgiving that Ashley doesn't work.  Kids have youth group this night if the predicted winter storm doesn't sweep through the area.  I will probably hang out in the coffee shop near the church and work on Christmas cards.
DINNER: Stir-fry Chicken

All pies will get baked today.  Any prep-work not finished so far this week will get done as well.  I will also make my cheese ball/pine cone and the cranberry salad I mentioned Friday and I will plot and plan my buffet arrangement.  Dinner will be quick, low-mess and stress free after a busy day of baking...
DINNER: Costco frozen Chicken and Cheese Chimichangas and fresh salad

The rest of the week will be leftovers!


What are your Thanksgiving plans and what are you cooking this week?


Sunday, November 22, 2015

*How to be Thankful: Week 4

Can you believe this is our last week of studying How to be Thankful together?  I prayed and fumbled around quite a bit with how to approach this last bit of scripture.  I desperately wanted to finish up Colossians 3 and fold it into Chapter 4 this week since it is filled with such wonderful advice for the believer as they are made new and leading into how to pray in thanksgiving.  However, out of respect for those who have a passel of plans this week, I decided to go with a more concise wrap-up.

You will find each lesson to be much shorter this week in order to accommodate meal and guest preparations.  Not to mention, I ultimately felt it necessary to focus our energies on this final Thanksgiving command in order to prepare our hearts and wrap up the study. If you missed the first 3 weeks, don't fret.  I think you will agree: learning how to be Thankful isn't just a November thing.  I would encourage you to still go, grab Week 1 , Week 2 , and Week 3 out of the line-up, and start the study now (or as soon as you can).  Maybe just disregard the fall bonus activities!!  This study is applicable to our lives year-round.

Remember: For your convenience, I have placed an asterisks * in the title of the 2 weekly articles which most directly hit on the study.  Other articles are applications, reflections, and just plain fun stuff!  There are really only two key posts to this study each week, they post on Sunday and Wednesday.


Let's recap:

Week 1: True Gratitude stems from Salvation as a reflection of how thankful we are for what Jesus has done.  We looked at the first part of Colossians Chapter 1 with emphasis on this passage:

11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  
- Colossians 1:11-14

Week 2: As the result of Salvation we are called to live a Christ-centered life and when we do so, gratitude is an overflow of such a life.  We finished up Chapter 1 and scoured Chapter 2, pouring over these verses:

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7

We also considered some instructions for getting better rooted in Christ and bearing His fruit found in Galatians 5:16-26 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22.

Week 3: Salvation + Christ-centered = Made New.  We put to death the earthly things and focus on the eternal, letting the Peace of Christ rule in our hearts producing even more gratitude!  No matter the circumstances, we can be grateful God is with us.  We also discussed how, in the name of was a reference to being like a person.  We are called to be the image of Christ. We had multiple points and gratitude verses in this section of reading.  We mostly pooled around these:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 
Colossians 3:1
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 
Colossians 3:15-17

This Week for our final message we will look at Paul's closing remarks to pray watchfully in thanksgiving and to share our faith.
This week's reading and study plan (click on the image to open the PDF):

Scripture this week is from Colossians 4:2-6

What and How ... what do we do now and how do we respond?

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
- Colossians 4:6

One historical note I want to touch on before we get started is the use of salt.  I think all other analogies will be clear as we study but this one I wanted to be sure was crystal.

Salt in biblical times had 3 main uses or references:
  • cleansing and preserving food from decay
  • forming covenants
  • flavor

Two of these uses are probably familiar to you as still being common today.  In contrast, forming covenants is something which stems out of Leviticus 2:13 and draws salt's preservative use into the concept: a covenant which will not decay.

We can easily extract symbolism in the 4:6 passage with concrete covenants, however, the element which seemed most applicable is flavor.  Consider this; without flavor (see Matthew 5:13) salt becomes useless, dull, un-interesting and indistinct.  

Not only will we look at praying in Thankfulness, but we will also look at where we go from here and the importance of not letting our life become flavorless and how our prayers of gratitude can help.

As we study this week, let's keep this fact at the forefront of our mind!

How can you pray steadfastly in thanksgiving and, as the result of your prayers, seek open doors where you might be salt and light?

This is the question we will answer this week.


Feel free to grab the button and share!
Remember, all you need is your Bible and a journal or paper.  If you want to print the S.W.A.P. worksheet, it is optional.  You can use one for the whole week, adding to the questions as you go, or print out one for each day.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let me know.  Take it step-by-step and do whatever you feel able to do.  The important thing is to focus on God's Word and what He is saying.

S.W.A.P. Intro...

S.W.A.P. Worksheet...

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Taste of Thanksgiving: Week 3

Week 3 of our study is wrapped-up and only one more week left!  How did you do?  If this is your first time here, don't despair, the How to be Thankful study is meant to be a lesson for the whole year through... pick it up and try it at any time!

Today we top off our week with some fun tid-bits.  The first week we looked at Thanksgiving Appetizers, because we were just starting out.  Last week we dove into the Main Meal, because we had been getting into the meat and potatoes of the study!  This week is like the cherry on top as we celebrate being Made New in Christ... what is sweeter than dessert?!

By the way, before I get started, just wanted to let you know I posted in Menu Monday this week about setting up a holiday Menu.  Next week's Menu Monday will dive even deeper on the topic.  Check them out if you are interested!

Onto our delicious desserts...   

Perfect Pie Crust

I'm not going to bore you with ANOTHER pumpkin pie recipe.  There are tons.  I do the standard.  I can share everyone's favorite pie crust recipe though.  Something which stands out among all the others and begs people to ask how you did it... while you simply smile and assure them in their unbelief that it was so easy your 2 year old could figure it out!

For a 2 crust pie You need:

2 cups flour (I use regular white or all purpose)
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup lard or shortening
7 Tbsp cold water

Wooden (or other) spoon
pastry blender or a large fork
rolling pin
additional flour for dusting surface to roll on
Medium-large metal or glass bowl

I use a large metal bowl because I am messy and my mix will get EVERYWHERE if I don't!  In  your bowl, combine flour and salt.  Cut in the lard/shortening until mixture resembles crumbs.  Add water and stir with spoon.  Set spoon aside and use hands to lightly kneed in the remaining crumbs in the bowl (this does not need to be a technical kneed... just simply making sure all ingredients are combined)

Divide dough in half.  Form dough halves into a disk.  From here you can either wrap in wax paper and Ziploc to store in the fridge or freezer for use... or... roll disks according to needed crust for pie recipes.  For extra flavor you can put a quick dash of nutmeg into the flour mixture before cutting in the lard OR a small splash of vanilla into the water before adding it in. This recipe is pretty forgiving, so don't stress!  Even when I need a single crust I will make a two-crust batch and freeze the extra.  (Consequently, this is the same recipe I use in Pot Pie!) 

*Pie Crust baking tips
  • When possible, pre-bake pie crust about 5 minutes, it helps avoid soggy bottoms!
  • To avoid burnt pie crust edges, tear off thin strips of foil (1-2" wide) and cover the pie crust edges before baking.

Cranberry Apple Pie

While we are on the subject of pie, I have to share a phenomenal recipe I found online at the Family Fun website a few years ago.  I'm glad I printed it then because I can't find it's duplicate now!  I have, of course, made a few modifications to fit us. Just in case you are snubbing your nose at "cranberry" in the title,  I also have to confess that I do NOT rush to the cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving buffet... ever.  However, I have found that I love whole cranberries in Cranberry Bread, Festive Cranberry Pineapple Salad (which appeared in every other magazine I got back in the early 2000s) and Cranberry Scones... along with this recipe.  It is reminiscent of a rhubarb pie but not as tart, much softer on the pallet.

What you need:
1 Pie crust
2 cups apples, peeled, cored, chopped to desired pie size (I make approx 1"x1/8" slices)
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (whole berries like you get in produce section)
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tbsp cold butter (I use margarine)

Preheat oven to 400.  Roll out pie crust and place in your pie pan so it comes to the lip of the pie pan.  You can do a decorative edge if you like.

Combine all pie ingredients and pour into crust filled pie pan..  Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients of the crumb topping and cut in the butter using a large fork or pastry blender (I usually do this in the same bowl I used for the pie fillings).

Remove pie from oven, reduce temperature to 375 and sprinkle the crumb topping over top.  Bake for another 25-30 minutes, until top is golden and the juice seem to be thickening and bubbling around edges. 

The pie is best when it has sat for a couple hours before serving.  You might want to make 2.... it will go fast!

Turkey Cookies

Back in the early 2000s I was addicted to homemaking and family magazines.  I think Kraft was trying to boost marketing and put out a FREE magazine every few months with awesome recipes which were quick, budget friendly, and easy to follow.  One recipe we latched onto was called Chocolate Holiday Bears and turned out to be a substitute for Gingerbread boys... I can't have gingerbread, I think I am allergic... seriously (I'm weird like that).  I saw the cute bears and instead thought "Turkeys!"  The rest is history!  We make these every year now, share them with friends and neighbors and I even make extra dough for the freezer so I am ready for Gingerbread boys at Christmas!  I only regret I don't have a finished product picture to show you.

What you need:
3/4 cup butter, softened (I use margarine)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 pkg (4 serving size) chocolate dry instant pudding mix
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon

For decorating:
3 sq Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate (I use chocolate chips when I don't have it)
Decorations such as small candies, sprinkles, candy corn, coconut, slivered almonds, etc. (we tried marshmallows one year but they got hard and weren't very good)

Preheat oven to 350. 

Beat butter, sugar, pudding mix and egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium until well blended.  Combine remaining dry ingredients and gradually add to the wet ingredients.  Form into a disk and refrigerate for up to an hour. 

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick and cut with cookie cutters.  We use turkeys, leaves, acorns and sometimes even pumpkins when little ones are in charge!  Place on greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10-14 minutes or until slightly firm.  When done, remove from pan and cool on rack.

Melt chocolate in microwave dish or double broiler (Micro on medium for 2 min).  Spread chocolate over desired area of cookie and add decorations or serve plane.  We usually spread the chocolate on the "feathers" at the back end of our turkeys, the "tops" of our acorns or over the entirety of our leaves.  I like to use a toothpick to trace the 'veins' of the leaves in the chocolate, giving them a more three-dimensional look.

This recipe will make quite a bit as you roll, combine scraps, and re-roll.  Don't double unless you expect to share with a lot of people or freeze half the dough for Christmastime.


Our craft this week was inspired by an old, long-ago, public school project my oldest (now 21) did in early elementary.  We have done it every year now as a family for as long as I can remember and no matter how old my kids get, they still look forward to it... as do hubby and I!

Turkey in Disguise
(also known as SAVE THE TURKEYS!)

What you need:
Turkey template (below) printed on card stock
Whatever arts and crafts odds and ends you have on hand
Construction paper
Glue (school glue for bigger objects, glue stick for paper-to-paper)
Imagination (did I mention that yet?)
(click on image to access printable PDF of template)

ANYTHING goes with this project, as you will see below.  The idea is to help the turkey put on a disguise so he won't be recognized and, therefore, eaten at Thanksgiving! One year, I cut a wagon wheel out of construction paper and glued it on mine, hubby used an old iPad cover and turned his into an iPad.  Brenden once made his a trash can using construction paper for the can and actual wrappers and "garbage" glued on!  The sky is the limit....

(last year's disguises)

Brenden disguised his turkey as Dustfinger having been inspired by reading Inkheart at the time.

Ashley was reading (and then watching) Left Behind (with Kirk Cameron).  Surely no one will cook good ole Buck?!

Brooke was thoroughly inspired after just attending her first live concert and meeting Brandon Heath.  No turning back on this one!  (one hand holds a ticket, the other a pen for signing with - he had signed her ticket for her)

Hubby has quite the eye for detail (and disguise) as well.  His theory: if you think it's skunk surely you won't hunt it for Thanksgiving dinner!!
Just in case anyone wondered, I had to make it clear: NO turkeys here, try looking elsewhere!!

Usually we display our disguised foul on a door in a central area of the house.  One year I set up an entire scape along an elongated bulletin board we had in the hallway to our central bathroom.  (one of the turkeys was dressed as Santa that year and one was a bush!!)  I don't recommend hanging on the window if you live in colder climates.  The moister that gathers on windows may ruin the paper.

Have elementary age kiddos?
Check out this book.  It is a great supplement to this activity AND one of our all time faves.  We used to read it every Thanksgiving Eve (click on image to find it at Amazon)...

Speaking of Thanksgiving books, have you seen this one?  It ties with 'Twas the Night as a family favorite.  The pictures are captivating and the story puts a whole new spin on a classic song sung by children through the ages at this time of year. (click on image to find it at Amazon)...

What your family favorite dessert and activities for Thanksgiving?


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